How might Indigenous-led conservation and carbon storage efforts align with more universal conservation and climate objectives, while creating Indigenous community benefits and advancing Indigenous rights? This overarching question was a focus of Exploring the Possibilities: Indigenous-led Conservation and Carbon Storage in Canada, a Metcalf-funded gathering in late May that was organized and hosted by the University of Guelph, Anwaatin, Inc., and Shared Value Solutions. The meeting included Indigenous leaders from across the country, non-governmental organizations, academics, and other sector partners who are working to advance Indigenous-led conservation and carbon storage efforts. At the gathering, participants mapped shared interests, identified key questions for further exploration, and discussed challenges and opportunities involving carbon, conservation, and Indigenous rights in Canada.
Elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, upon whose territory the gathering was held, welcomed participants and shared stories of the history and traditions of his community.
The opening session featured presentations and a panel discussion on Indigenous-led conservation in Canada and possibilities for carbon stewardship. This included remarks from Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and President of Coastal First Nations, who spoke about the use of carbon finance as part of an agreement reached between Coastal First Nations and the Province of British Columbia in 2009.
The gathering created spaces for small groups to discuss shared challenges, opportunities, and other areas of interest including carbon finance, negotiating carbon agreements, establishing guardians programs, and more.
Short video interviews with the leaders at the gathering will be circulated by Indigenous Leadership Initiative later this year, with a hope to build further interest in and support for Indigenous-led conservation and carbon storage strategies.